Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Street of the Sun

Miguel laughed. "The senorita enquires about you, Fidel. You, with your sixteen years, have accomplished something which none of the young caballeros of Havana have been able to do. Do you know how many there are in this city who would give anything to have the senorita notice them? Come, greet her, boy, for she is not in the habit of doing such things."

"You embarrass me, Miguel," she fluttered her fan, "and I am sure you equally embarrass your friend. How can he greet me before he is introduced to me. You are lacking in manners not to have presented him?"

"Present Fidel? Margerita, are you serious?"

"And why not?"

Miguel shook his head.

"Aye de mi? I can see you are not a Cuban. Had you been Cuban, you would have taken one look at Fidel - that would have been enough - and had I presented him to you you would have been shocked."

"Stop talking in riddles, or I shall become angry with you. I see a handsome young lad who accompanies you in your coach. I take him for a friend of yours and I would naturally suppose you would introduce us."

Miguel winked at Fidel but spoke to Margerita. "Fidel may be a friend of mine and yet he is not a friend. It just happens that I bought him a few days ago. Look closely, my dear, can't you see he is not white? He is a slave. Therefore I could not possibly introduce you to him or him to you for, according to our custom here in Cuba, it would be like introducing you to one of the horses that pull our coach."

"I can't believe it. The boy is not black. I always thought all slaves were black."

Miguel motioned to Fidel to move nearer and the boy dropped on one knee on the bottom of the coach. Miguel loosened the neckband of his shirt and pulled coat and shirt down, revealing the boy's bare shoulder. "Look? Now will you believe?"

Her face whitened. "I see a scar. No, it is not a scar. Valgame dios? He's been branded."

"Of course, all slaves are."

"But why did you do this to him?"

"Look more closely, my dear. The Santiago arms are two falcons; this is a lion rampant. The brand is not of my doing. He was branded when I bought him."

"Is that true, Fidel?" Margerita's unbelief almost made her doubt Miguel.

"Por supuesto, senorita. I was branded before don Miguel bought me."

"Yes, Margerita, he's a slave and he belongs to me. I bought him only a few days ago in the Mercado. As a matter of fact, I bought two slaves and Fidel is one of them."

"What sort of a country is this where one buys a human being with money?"

"Just like one buys a dog or a horse or a cow. Exactly. You see, although I am an exception, Cubans do not consider a boy like Fidel human. In the eyes of the world he's an animal - a little higher in breeding than a horse or a dog because he has the ability to reason and to express himself but an animal nonetheless. This I do not subscribe to. Yet, despite my feelings in the matter, the other day I entered Solano's market as casually as I might go to my tailors to buy a new suit or to the jewellers to buy a snuff box. I went there to make a purchase of a man. It was not the first time, of course, because previously I have bought field hands - blacks often straight from Africa whom I purchased as I would an animal by looking at their teeth and the sleekness of their skins.

"But this time it was different. I went to buy a servant to replace our aging major domo and I ended up by buying two - the fellow Antonio and this Fidel here. Fidel looks up to Antonio as though he were a god. I must confess I myself was impressed with the fellow - he's good looking, intelligent and well educated and I would defy anybody to detect the slightest taint of Negro blood in the man. In fact," Miguel was almost apologetic, "Having been in prison, his skin was even whiter than mine which had been exposed to the sun. Do you know, as I considered his purchase, something strange happened to me."

"What?" Margerita asked.

"For one fleeting moment, I felt that I was for sale and he was buying me. I do not know what came over me but it was such a revulsion that I was tempted to free every slave I owned. Then my grandmother and I decided to do exactly that and from now on the Santiago family will employ only free labour."

Margerita placed her hand over Miguel's. Her fingers closed tightly around his. She glanced across at Fidel but his cheerful grin denoted nothing but happiness. She was near to tears but they seemed wasted.

"How pitiful?" She had been deeply moved by Miguel's words. "I shall be proud of you if you do free your slaves."

"But all Cuba will hate me," he shrugged his shoulders. "Well, let them. We Santiagos are a law unto ourselves."

The mask that formed the Quesada's face showed signs of coming to life. It started to move, like plaster cracking and the thin line of her lips parted sufficiently to allow the words to come out. Her eyes, steely blue, were fastened on Miguel.

"Am I right in believing senor, that these unfortunates are all of them persons of colour?"

Miguel nodded. "Yes, everyone held in slavery or sold in slavery has coloured blood. Even a single drop of Negro blood damns a man to servitude. All issue of female slaves in turn become slaves. Now this boy here," he pointed to Fidel, "I would judge to be a quadroon. That is, he has three-quarters white blood and from his looks I would imagine that some of it came from some Scandinavian, a sailor perhaps, whose blond hair has shown up in this lad. Negro blood is always on the distaff side, you know. Although the gentlemen of Cuba have been strict at drawing the line between white and coloured in public, they have always had a fondness for crossing the colour line behind the closed shutters of their bedrooms. Therefore we have many here in Cuba which you might not easily recognize as coloured. Some of them can boast noble blood in their veins. This Antonio that I bought - his mother was an octoroon girl and his father the Duke of Ramar. So, you see he is just one-sixteenth or possibly one-thirty-second coloured."

"The Duke  of  Ramar?' The senora was impressed. "You mean.....?"

"I mean that my slave is the natural son of the Duke. Through his father he is related to half the kings of Europe but according to Cuban law, he is as black as any black bruto newly arrived from Africa with a stick in his nose."

The senora sniffed. It was apparent that she did not credit the mingling of blue blood with black. In recomposing her mask, she narrowed her lips and then retreated behind the facade of what she fondly imagined to be aristocratic snobbishness.

Margerita leaned over and patted Fidel's hand. "Stop talking about slaves. You embarrass the boy and in truth you embarrass me."

But Fidel was not embarrassed. He was far too happy. That his feelings should even be considered was a new experience to him. Previously nobody had ever noticed his existence as a person. Now he was dressed in silk and velvet, riding in the Santiago coach alongside the master whom he worshipped as a god and the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, who had patted him on his hand.

"The senorita must not distress herself over me. Truly, I had rather be a slave to don Miguel than be Governor of Cuba. You see senorita, Antonio and I are together and we love him." He reached over for Miguel's hand and carried it to his lips.

Miguel drew his hand away quickly and gave Fidel a slap. "The boy's an actor, Margerita, a born actor. He loves to dramatize himself. You should have seen the show he put on at Solano's to get me to buy him. He knows how to play on one's sympathies. See how he has affected you. I think I'll send the beggar to Spain and put him on the stage. All his swooning and posturing. But in spite of it all, he's a good boy."

Margerita settled back in the corner of the coach and Miguel found her hand hidden under the folds of her skirt. Fidel, who had never been out of the city before, stared out the window and the senora looked blankly at the passing landscape, so different from the pinched grey-greenness of Spain. The coach had left the city far behind and was now well on its way to Marianao, beyond which lay the finca.

Note: Miguel comes up with the idea to give Fidel to Margerita for her protection from night thieves. Margerita says she would love to have Fidel but that she does not believe in keeping slaves. Margerita says she'll accept Fidel on one condition, that if he belong to her he be free. You shall belong only to yourself she says. She has the coach pull over and performs a type of knighting ceremony with a sword to make Fidel's freedom official and gives him a gentlemen's last name. Margerita chooses to name Fidel, Fidel Dorado, Fidel meaning faithful and Dorado meaning golden as in his hair, eyes and silk suit color. Fidel the Golden.

pgs 96-103
The Street of the Sun by Lance Horner
author of Mandingo

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Raiders Championship Season is upon Us

Carr, Coop & Mack are Back!  And they've added something special that should put all worries of past seasons on the rack; Beast Mode is now wearing Silver & Black!

Oakland Raiders - Just Win Baby!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Raiders Training Camp Visit

Well I've finally forgiven my Raiders for their business decision to move to the desert. The unforgivable city officials are the villains I blame for the breakdown in negotiations to stay in Oakland. They had home field advantage, possession of the ball, time on the clock and still simply fumbled the ball away, game over. I may not agree with owner Mark Davis moving the team, but I understand when it's comes to doing profitable bizzness!

I do expect to celebrate an Oakland Raiders Super Bowl championship before they leave the bay. We diehard, dedicated silver and black fans are owed nothing less than a Lombardi Trophy to add to our championship case. Over the past fifteen years we've put up with our city, our owner, our team, our league all falling short of helping the Raiders return to greatness. Now we appear to be rebuilt and loaded with all the arsenal needed to take our place amongst the elite NFL teams of the league once again. 

My training camp visit didn't reveal much about the team. It was a hot, sweaty, Napa, California afternoon that brought out the silver and black fans, God love'em. As usual, it's the offensive position football skills that are most noticeable at training camps. And let me say that the Raiders have running backs, receivers, quarterbacks and a plan to attack defenses this season.

QB Derek Carr was his accurate throwing self with no signs of lingering effects from the leg injury sustained last season. Carr looks reeling and ready to go, showing a zest for the love of his teammates and the game. Former first round pick EJ Manuel is a Raider and could prove invaluable should our..............let's just say he's a welcome sight to see backing up Carr. He was rifling passes to receivers in practice with pinpoint accuracy. I still like the kid Connor Cook's arm. Connor I saw dropping passes into the hands of receivers with a touch so graceful; but again it is non-contact practice.

Briefly saw Marshawn Lynch beast-ing through the O-line, but it was DeAndre Washington showing off an explosive toughness to finish plays right in front of me that pumped up the volume. DeAndre looks like he added some muscle and/or beast attitude over the offseason. He'll need it to spell Lynch and pick up the slack from big back Latavius Murray leaving to the Vikings. Jalen Richard and George Atkinson III were there but didn't see much of them. Nor did I see the Mexico City Marauder FB Jamize Olawale, who should be a big part of our short yardage offense this season. And we can't sleep on rookie RB Elijah Hood. Yah never know what young buck the beast bug will rub off on. He's a likely candidate!

New tight end Jared Cook was also seen making plays. There was also the little speedster Jaydon Mickens, wide receiver from last season's practice squad, sprinting around tacklers bringing back memories of Jacoby Ford . And did I mention newly acquired wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson showing off his receiving and returning skills?

It's only Day 4 of training camp. I'm like all football fans in August, craving on-field action with a passion that's snarling at the end of it's leash. I've been here before with the Raiders, seeing all the potential on the team and thinking "yes, this is our year." Well folks, with little to go on but gut instinct, I'm already planning to attend a championship parade in Oakland come 2018, and it won't be led by Steph Curry, Draymond Green or KD.  I'm talking Carr, Mack, BeastMode and the whole damn cast of silver and black personnel right down to the Raiderettes riding up Broadway and around Lake Merritt in a victory parade like no other. The Raiders have a good chance to go the distance this season and I am onboard for the ride. Win, Lose or Tie...........

Oakland Raiders 2017
"It's Our Year!" 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Golden State Warriors Home Stretch

Okay, I'm guilty this time of posting Warriors information from another site. Thanks KSRO for providing a Warriors game breakdown that coincides with my own analysis of what I saw tonight. Great win Warriors!

Warriors Drop Memphis in Playoff Style Game

By Cole Reece| March 26th

Tonight the Golden State Warriors began a stretch of 5 games in a row against playoff caliber teams. The Grizzlies had been a thorn in the side of the Dubs all season long. Memphis has played the Warriors tough and tonight’s contest was no different. In the 1st quarter, the Grizz slowed the game to a crawl and frustrated the Dubs. Andre Iguodala came off the bench and absolutely changed the complexion of the game. He added instant offense and brought energy and tempo back to the Warriors. It was a playoff-like atmosphere, and neither team could seize control. The Grizzlies relied heavily on points in the paint. They scored 30 first-half points inside the restricted area. In the 3rd quarter, Klay Thompson became the embodiment of “Splash”. Thompson scored the 1st 10 points for the Dubs. Matt Barnes joined the fun with 10 points as he looks even more valuable as Durant nears his return. Mike Conley would refuse to let the Grizzlies go quietly. Down (74-81) with under 1:30 left in the 3rd he helped tie the game up at 81. Golden State made their push towards victory in the final quarter. It started with defense where they held Memphis to just 13 points. Curry pushed the game out of reach with 8 points in the final frame. The Warriors wound up winning by the final score of 106-94. Klay Thompson was spectacular, and the Warriors drained 17 three-pointers on the night. The Quest for the number 1 seed got off to a great start for the Dubs. Up next Golden State continues their quest in Texas against the Rockets. Make sure to tune into KSRO for the next installment of Warrior’s basketball.

Stars of the Night: Thompson 31 points, 7 of 11 on three’s, 21 2nd half points. Iguodala 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Curry 21 points, 5 three’s, and 11 assists. Mike Conley (Memphis) 29 points and 6 assists.

The Bigger Warriors Story of the Night: Steph Curry fan Isaiah Simpson

Black New Yorkers React To White Terrorist

Only in America! I have to believe that only in America can an individual commit a premeditated racist attack in hopes of spreading terror in white women and black men, and have it called anything but Terrorism.

Terror came to New York City this past week in the form of a white American racist bent on killing African-American men. James Harris Jackson of Maryland arrived in New York City and stalked potential African-American victims before unleashing his terror on 66 yr old Timothy Caughman. The terrorist weapon of choice was a 26 inch mini-sword that resembles a military bayonet.

What New Yorkers are finding disturbing, and well they should, is that the attack and attacker were quickly labeled white supremacist as opposed to terrorist.  They're wondering how a 2014 killer of two cops could be called a terrorist and James Harris Jackson not be labelled the same by the media. Could it be because cop killer Ismaaiy Brinsley was a black man from Brooklyn with Islamic faith leanings?

Attacker James Harris Jackson admitted afterward to police his plans and purpose for coming to New York City and killing a black man; to stop white women from entering into relationships with black men. He also said his attack on Caughman "was practice" for a larger attack against black men in Times Square.

This was not a "Dry Run," but a successful act of violence to create terror and fear in particular races of men and women. Jackson seems not to consider himself supreme over black men, but rather angry with white women for inter-relating with black men. The killing of black men appears to be just a means to an end for this attacker. Seems a bit twisted and complicated. I'm sure that in Jackson's diseased mind, it is.

We continue to see Americans commit crimes of terror and hatred here on American soil. Regardless of who it is and why they choose to terrorize and kill Americans, our media must be unbiased and consistent in their reportage of such incidents. If news media cannot do so, then they're as much a part of the Black Lives and Immigrants not mattering perception as any.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Gift of Verse

For my Grandson on his 18th birthday. May you someday find comfort in reading these few lines with understanding, knowing the wise message of being one's own man to be so.

Character of a Happy Life
by Sir Henry Wotton

How happy is he born and taught
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill!

Whose passions not his masters are,
Whose soul is still prepared for death;
Untied unto the world by care
Of public fame, or private breath;

Who envies none that chance doth raise,
Nor vice; Who never understood
How deepest wounds are given by praise;
Nor rules of state, but rules of good;

Who hath his life from rumors freed,
Whose conscience is his strong retreat;
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
Nor ruin make oppressors great;

Who God doth late and early pray
More of His grace than gifts to lend;
And entertains the harmless day
With a religious book or friend;

----This man is freed from servile bands
Of hope to rise, or fear to fall;
Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai --- Victorious --- Over Chocolatito


In his first loss ever, super flyweight titlist Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez was as courageous as ever. Against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a challenger from Muay Thai country (Thailand), a bruised and bloodied Chocolatito battled to what I personally thought was a draw if not a win.  Seemed Sor Rungvaisai was never really hurt by Chocolatito and fought a solid fight. The Thai boxer put Gonzalez down in the first round with a shot to the body. Chocolatito needed all his ring skills and toughness to stay in there with Rungvaisai, who seemed bigger and stronger.

The 12th round might go down as one of the best of this seasons' boxing rounds. The two tired fighters exchanged blows with wicked abandon, but neither could stun, stagger or knockdown the other. The fight had action all the way through. The blows weren't always noticeable, but the work these two fighters put into the fight was definitely championship caliber.

Congratulations to new Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for showing up and delivering a fierce Ong-Bak like challenge to one of the best fighters in boxing today. Thailand should be proud of their champion. I hope to see a rematch.

As for the main event: Gennady Golovkin vs Daniel Jacobs. Sorry Triple-G, but you did not win that fight.

Jacobs brought it to Golovkin all night and Triple-G didn't seem to have an answer for his power and speed.

But for the knockdown that I thought was more an off balance mow-down, the fight seemed even with no clear winner or loser. But judges do what they do after such battles and Triple-G retained his WBC welterweight belt. As Jacobs stated afterwards, Triple-G has the bigger name brand and I guess the buildup to Golovkin vs Canelo Alverez supersedes Daniel Jacobs; or something like that. Either way, Jacobs, who wasn't expected to go the distance, has solidified himself as a legitimate championship-caliber boxer and he just might've exposed to other challengers weaknesses we once thought unthinkable in Triple-G's style.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beast Mode or AP

It's a dilemma I'll definitely take this time of year for the Raiders. If the rumors are true, we could see either Adrian Peterson or Marshawn Lynch suiting up in silver and black this upcoming NFL season. With RB Latavius Murray running off to Minnesota, we're in need of a big, bruising back to fill the void.  AP has been injury prone and turns 32 this month. Lynch will be 31 next month and hasn't played in one full season. The big difference here is injury vs retirement. Factor in the Oakland native kibbit and Lynch is your Raiders starting running back in 2017 hands down.

I've begged, pleaded and prayed on this blog in the past for game-change caliber players to come over to the NFL's dark side that is the Raiders organization. Maybe this time my plea will pay off. Never has there been such an explosive local football player available to join an already playoff caliber Raiders team. Other than maybe getting bay area native Tom Brady as a backup to Derek Carr, the Lynch signing would be a bay area bonanza.

So without further ado, BEAST MODE----------------this prayer and plea is for YOU!

Morning Marshawn, This Is God Calling!

You may not find this letter of spiritual advice immaculate, but if you have faith you’ll understand and receive the blessing.  It’s about more than just a football career; it’s about seeing the gifts of your life unfold in ways you never imagined.  I know, I’ve had my eye on you Marshawn.  You have so much to offer in so many ways, but like many, there’s been some doubt and many distractions along the way.   

The road of life I made crooked and challenging for reasons only I know.  What I’d like you to believe is that every bump, curve and detour placed along your path was put there for your best interest, just as the times your life seemed to be in cruise control, it was I removing some of those worries and burdens.  It’s been like that for you since April 22, 1986 and will continue through all your days.  For I am always with you.

As an adult I must remind you of the Free Will you’ve been blessed with, which allows you to choose what path to take and team to join.  Mind you, your choice will not change what I’ve willed for you, but it will determine the type of experiences you encounter traveling toward your destiny. Either way, by your will or mine, I will be right there with you as I’ve always been.  I write to you in this, your 31st year of life, to give you this special birthday gift, though you might see it as more of a puzzle than a blessing. 

You are not who you think yourself to be. Know Thyself!

You, my faithful servant, at heart are a Raider.  Go West and discover those treasures awaiting you.  Pledge to choose a path based on your soulful needs over financial desires, trusting that I am always with you.  What might at first seem unwise and foolish to agents and those who’ve profited by blessed talents bestowed on you, will be revealed as the link to your fulfillment as a man in touch with his destiny.  The gleam of life, which you’ll surely discover in this new journey, will eventually become evident to those who might’ve doubted, including yourself. 

Again, be mindful and watchful of distracting forces.  This time, choose not only with the hungry head, but practice using the other decision-making instrument of which I’ve blessed you with; a humble heart. Do not be deceived, for a humble heart sees what a hungry head is sometimes too full to discern.

Oakland, California needs you my servant, as much as you need Oaktown.  Seek not what you’ve found in Seattle.  Go where you can feel my Pacific waters calming the summer air around you at night.  Go experience the California sunshine splashing down reminding you of my presence before, during and after the dark, threatening storm.  Awake to the winds of autumn blustering in from sea, greeting you to a new day in My blessed bay. A place where past transgressions are forgiven and no stone be cast should new ones arise.

"Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you.” In giving of yourself you will surely receive tenfold.
For I promise this and more to all those of faith.  I Am always with you Marshawn.  And win, lose or tie, I Am a Raider!

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Gift of Artist Julia Cairns

Artist/Illustrator Julia Cairns has an exceptional gift when it comes to reanimating images of life. This painting of a horse standing so elegantly in what looks to me like a mythical childhood garden, is alive with life vibrations. You have a blend of basic earthy colors with dashes and highlights of pastel blues, browns, yellows and reds. It sure makes for one elegant looking horse. 

Look at it long enough and you'll see the horse rock its head up and down with a snort while swatting its tail at some flyby insect. It's as if he/she is waiting for us to join in the picture and begin stroking its body with a brush. Wait a minute, I think it just called out my name!

The horse beckons us to return to our childhood imaginations if only for a moment, to see and feel the magic and wonder of life reflected in art through innocent eyes once again. What's the old biblical saying, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become as little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

And the added beauty of seeing not a thread of horse tack (saddles, bridles, bits, halters, reins, harnesses, etc...) gives the animal a freedom in paradise charm that is heavenly.

I stumbled across the art of Julia Cairns many years ago and am proud to have one of her prints, "To The River," hanging in my home. You can read more about Ms. Cairns at her website:

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Harry Emerson Fosdick on Faith

"A book on faith has been for years my hope and intention. And now it comes to final form during the most terrific war men ever waged, when faith is sorely tried and deeply needed."
(The first lines in his preface to the book)

The Meaning of Faith
by Harry Emerson Fosdick

When faith in God goes, man the mortal loses his only hope.

Man's nature, like a lighthouse, combines two elements. At the foundation of the beacon all is stone; as one lifts his eyes all is stone still; but at the top is something new and wonderful. It is the thing for which the rock was piled. Its laws are not the laws of stone nor are its ways the same. For while the stolid rock stands fast, this miracle of light with speed incredible hurls itself out across the sea. Two worlds are here, the one cold and stationary, the other full of the marvel and mystery of fire. So man has in him a miracle which he cannot explain; he "feels that he is greater than he knows"; and he never has been able to believe that the mystery of spirit was given him in vain, had no reality from which it came, and no future beyond death.

The finest thing ever said of Columbus is a remark of his own countryman, "The instinct of an unknown continent burned in him." That is the secret of Columbus' greatness. All the arguments by which he attempted to convince doubters were but afterthoughts of this; all the labors by which he endeavored to make good his hopes were but its consequence. And if we ask of man why so universally he has believed in life to come, the answer leaps not superficially from the mind, but out of the basic intuitions of man's life. We know that something is now ours which ought not to die; the instinct of an unknown continent burns in us. But all hopes, the motives, the horizons that immortality has given man must go, if faith in God departs. In a godless world man dies forever.

One, therefore, who is facing loss of faith may not regard it as a light affair. To be sure, some denials of religion, even a Christian must respect.

But some discard religion from their life's adventure with no such serious understanding of the import of their denial. They are pert disbelievers. They toss faith facilely aside in a light mood. Such frivolous sceptics indict their own intelligence. Whoever discards religious faith should appoint a day of mourning for his soul and put on a sackcloth and ashes. He must take from his life the greatest thought that man the thinker ever had, the finest faith that the sinner ever found, the strongest reliance that man the sufferer ever trusted in, the loftiest vision that man the lover ever saw, and the only hope that man the mortal ever had. So he must deny his faith in God. Before one thus leaves himself bereft of the faith that makes life's adventure most worth while he well may do what Carlyle, under the figure of Teufelsdrockh, says that he did in his time of doubt: "In the silent night-watches, still darker in his heart than over sky and earth, he has cast himself before the All-seeing, and with audible prayers cried vehemently for Light."

Pgs 21-22

In memoriam to his mother:
’Tis human fortune’s happiest height to be
A spirit melodious, lucid, poised, and whole;
Second in order of felicity
to have walk’d with such a soul.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Warriors To Watch On All-Star Weekend

And there you have it, the NBA will showcase four All-Stars from the Bay Area's Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, we won't see the Warriors fifth potential all-star because of a shoulder injury that's still not fully healed. 

Zaza Pachulia, aka "The Zaz" will not be participating in this weekend's All-Star activities. There's something about Zaza that brings out the commoner in all of us. It would've been nice to see five Warriors players with their coach Steve Kerr holding court for the Western All-Stars, but that old 80's "greed is good" motto went bye-bye with the wall street scandals that rocked the era.

Remember wall street stock broker Ivan Boesky before serving time for illegal insider trading?:

"I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself."

Well, we Warriors fans feel good and can live with four of our guys deservedly representing the West. As for Zaza, I hear that Las Vegas has laid odds on the Georgian favorite son perhaps appearing in a beer commercial.

It could happen!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Books Not Bombs

"Trump is the perfect modern American. He's a human consumption machine with no attention span, no self-control, no beliefs and no hobbies outside of sex, spending, eating and talking about himself." 

Above is an excerpt from author/journalist Matt Taibbi's RollingStone article discussing his new book "Insane Clown President." The criticizing excerpt says as much about the new American president as it does about American behavior in general. Perhaps our current political situation is simply a lesson in 'be careful what you wish for' wisdom. 

This is not a title on my book wish list, nor would I think to insult the reputation of clowns who are still struggling from blights to their image from the recent clown attack hysteria.

What this book cover and it's subject matter should do is make Americans pause and take a good long look at themselves in the mirror.  We can't always control the ugly politics of our country, but we can pause long enough to put our own ugliness in check.

It's a shame that the famed Ringling Bros. Circus is closing down after over 100 years in operation. Let us pray that it won't be replaced by this insane high-wire balancing act that's generating daily dispatches from Washington D.C.

Books Not Bombs Campaign - Support Syrian Students

Monday, February 06, 2017

Call It The "Super Stowl"

How else to explain the unprecedented Super Bowl comeback victory by the most cheating franchise in the NFL. America awoke this morning as if they'd re-lived the 2016 Presidential Election all over again.

Polls Don't Lie, Do They?

The Atlanta Falcons, led by NFL MVP Matt Ryan, dominated the first half of Super Bowl LI by outscoring the opponent 21-3. They scored by running, passing and a defensive pick six that up to that point was the highlight of the game. The Falcons looked the part of an NFL team that's hungry, balanced and confident in their game plan. 

By the time the Lady Gaga halftime show began, football fans worldwide were laughing and lolling around as if they'd seen the best of Super Bowl LI, with the better team doing what it was supposed to do.  

Then came the second half where unlike most teams playing against the cheater prone opponent, the Atlanta Falcons continued their dominance. They had an 8 play, 85 yard, 4:14 touchdown drive that put them up 28-3. Then it seemed like the offense and defense could join in with the rest of the football world to enjoy a laugher game.  

Only problem was that they forgot just who their opponent was; the cheating-est NFL team in the modern era of professional football. To the surprise of the fans, media and the coaches and players on both sides, the Atlanta Falcons did not score another point as that unethical organization people love to hate made the world go "Gaga." 

Someday an investigative committee reviewing this game might reveal how the habitually prone cheaters Stowl this Bowl. 

  1. no longer in possession of all one's mental faculties, especially on account of old age.

    "I want to write my memoirs before I go too gaga"
    • very enthusiastic and excited about someone or something.

      "moviegoers went gaga over Harry Potter"

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Relax America, Putin is Gonna Make Everything Okay!

I haven't had a Saturday Night Live skit bring me to tears with laughter and horror since Tina Fey's rendition of Sarah you know who.  But that was before Alec Baldwin and company began showcasing their skills with mimicking Trump and Putin.  Theirs is what comedy skit acting is supposed to be; comic with a truthfulness that makes it better to laugh along with than to cry from the pain of it's reality.

Great job SNL. It's only been a few days since the Presidential inauguration and already you're breaking internet and cable viewer records with your political satire.  Or did the network give "alternative facts" about it's Nielsen ratings?

I suppose SNL will have enough White House material available to them in the coming 4 years to keep the show's viewer ratings skyrocketing long after this Presidential Apprentice has served his allotted time or is "Fired."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's Brady & Belichik One More Time

Yep, with Patriots QB Tom Brady just completing a touchdown pass with 1:35 left in the 3rd quarter to make the score 33-9, the fate of the Super Bowl is sealed.  It will be the Atlanta Falcons vs the New England Patriots in this year's Big Show.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost their starting running back Le'veon Bell early to a groin injury, but it was their zone defense that Tom Brady just picked apart like a medical cadaver. Patriots WR Chris Hogan has 180 receiving yards in three quarters. Even without the Gronk, the Patriots at home in the playoffs are still one tough nut to crack.

At least the Falcons won't have to factor in location of the big game; the Super Bowl is in Houston, Texas. But they should be mindful of past Patriots "Alternative Facts"(lies) testimony, explaining their methods of studying film footage of opponents prior to big games.

Falcons Await AFC Champ

The Green Bay Packers never seemed to have a chance. With a 24-0 halftime score, it began to feel like Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons were scrimmaging for a league championship. And to think that without Packers QB Aaron Rodger's heroics last week, the Falcons could've been on the road facing the Dallas Cowboys who had the best record in the league. And that's why they play the games.

The Atlanta Falcons are heading to the Super Bowl.

If you can remember RB Jamal Anderson and the 1998 "Dirty Birds," then you'll appreciate the Falcons return to the Big Show. I know the city of Atlanta is glowing bright as a Georgia Peach with their NFL team putting them back into the national spotlight.

Good job ATL, good job!

3:00 left in 4th QTR 
Packers 21
Falcons 44

Birth of a Nation

It's never too late to educate one's self on history. I watched the movie "Birth of a Nation" the other night and the seeds of it's terror and violence stayed with me longer than most movies depicting violence.

As a man who loves learning about historical times, I've seen and heard much of it all before. But this movie, which I can't say had the best writing or acting of movies like it, got it's message across expertly. Here's my Amazon review for "Birth of a Nation" and why I think it important for today's movie audiences from all nations to watch.

Not Just Another Slavery Movie

Some might say, "here we go again, another slavery movie." After watching "Birth of a Nation" they might reclassify slavery movies as "another American terrorism movie."  The movie is as much about the antebellum south's many ways of terrorizing slaves as it is about slaves rebelling against such tyranny. It's made clear in the movie that instilling slaves with the terror of white violence toward them is the means by which the plantation owners chose to maintain control and elicit the most profit and pleasure out of their slaves' labors. Not to mention also as a way to bolster and justify white supremacist ideology.

The methods of terror inflicted on slaves in this movie are not new.  We've seen whippings, rapes, intimidated children and such in other movies. What's new here is the making of a rebel against the system of slavery at the hands of the oppressor. This story of Nat Turner gives a sad twist that many might not have heard of before. The fact that Nat's gift of preaching from the good book is used to not so much ease the slave's physical pain and bring peace to one's weary soul, but is used instead to reinforce the terror and fear of the slave master's vengeance should one displease him, is the crime that comes home to roost in this story. It's a scary parable that we see repeated today in the terror headlining the middle east. Whether it be cotton or oil, there's a price to pay for choosing prejudice and profit over humanity.

For those of us who continue to recognize the seeds of terror by the fruits they produce, this movie adds to one's understanding of where the roots of evil lie.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Toyota Prius Braking System Still Failing

A Consumer Reports:

As driver of a 2010 Toyota Prius I find it my duty as a concerned consumer to report a dangerous feature. Applying the brakes while the vehicle is traveling over a pothole, bump or bumpy and slippery road can cause an accelerating sensation and temporary loss of control of the vehicle. I say "accelerating sensation" because that's what it feels like, when in actuality the brakes are failing.

When I first reported this to the Toyota dealership they had me ride with one of their mechanics to demonstrate/duplicate the problem. The mechanic driving was unable and/or unwilling to verify the problem. Granted, we both had a hard time duplicating the braking issue since the roads near the dealership were newly blacktopped and in mint condition.  

With me driving we drove to an older blacktopped area and while braking on a hill I noticed the accelerating sensation, not as abrupt as usual, before the brakes kicked in. I immediately informed the mechanic and he said he didn't notice a thing. My girlfriend has also experienced the acceleration sensation when driving over bumps, but never has a passenger noticed it.

The mechanic did explain about a Toyota recall where the brakes were releasing over bumps and causing the sensation of acceleration, but he said the recall didn't apply to my vehicle because it already had the software upgrade. It was the first time I'd heard of this Toyota problem and the first time anyone at Toyota mentioned a brake recall and/or software upgrade for braking.

When the mechanic and I got back to the dealership I asked the service advisor about the recall and he confirmed there'd been a brake recall, but repeated the mechanic's words verbatim that the recall didn't apply to my vehicle because it already had a software upgrade. 

I left the dealership feeling like Toyota was covering up for a brake defect in my vehicle. I couldn't fully blame the mechanic for not noticing the mild acceleration I noticed while driving with him in the passenger seat. I did find it very odd that both Toyota employees knew about the brake recall and the software upgrade to address it, yet neither mentioned it to me until after we'd test driven the vehicle. When I voiced my concern of their reluctance to divulge such critical performance information about Toyota's brake recall the service advisor apologized, then gave his reason as not wanting to mislead or misinform customers prior to testing the vehicle. 

Forward 2-3 years as I bring my same Toyota Prius in to the same Toyota dealership location for a scheduled performance service. I bring up my concerns about the continued braking issue and fill in the service advisor about the prior visit where the Toyota mechanic's test drive result was inconclusive. The service advisor agreed to have the mechanic take a look at the braking system.

After servicing the vehicle the mechanic and service advisor met with me and explained the brakes were fine. I told him how I understood it wasn't the vehicle accelerating but the brakes releasing when I apply the brake peddle while going over a bump(s). The mechanic stated that's exactly how the brakes are designed to perform. He said that anti-lock brakes, such as the ones installed in my Toyota Prius, are designed to temporarily release when the vehicle goes over bumps. 

When I told them of the danger and helplessness a driver experiences during that "temporary" loss of vehicle stoppage the mechanic said I shouldn't drive so close to other vehicles and began admonishing all drivers who tailgate. I turned to the service advisor with a look of "is he serious?" on my face. The advisor was as still, pale and silent as a porcelain statue. I turned back to the mechanic saying adamantly that I do not tailgate and that safety while driving is part of my job training and responsibility. 

Then I asked him point blank if I could get him in front of a judge, any judge, to say exactly what he'd just so boldly stated. You could hear a pin drop. Finally, I could do nothing but laugh and pat the mechanic on the back. This poor heavily accented guy was obviously foreign born and was just doing his job and probably towing the company line. The slick service advisor, with the touch of a used car salesman, eased the conversation toward other service checklist completions made by the mechanic and nothing more was mentioned about Toyota's braking system. 

Since that last, most recent Toyota maintenance service experience I've found alarming online information about the Toyota Braking Issue on my 2010 Prius models. Wouldn't hurt for consumers to get an understanding about Toyota's regenerative braking systems as well.

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So my advice to Toyota customers is do not depend on Toyota to educate or inform you about the safety, or lack thereof, of your vehicle. Get outside advice about Toyota recalls and if need be get a good Lawyer. And remember, tailgating is a driving safety hazard. 

Once I got home and completely looked over the Toyota customer service receipt showing all the maintenance performed during the visit, I noticed a page describing the replacement of Curtain Shield Airbag Brackets. Under the heading for CAUSE, was the description: Open Safety Recall.

I called back the service advisor and after what felt like pulling teeth, with him dodging and dancing around the reason for bracket replacement, he admitted that replacing the brackets were due to a recall. I figure maybe he's a summertime auto salesman coming in from the cold of winter to work the service desk. Why else would a Toyota service advisor not advise a customer about product safety recall maintenance just performed on his/her vehicle? 

And if all that wasn't interesting enough, what triggered taking my 2010 Prius in for servicing in the first place was finding the oil dipstick almost completely dry. The Toyota mechanic confirmed finding no oil on the dipstick. The mechanic advised keeping an eye on the oil level moving forward for the next few months, nothing more. After the service visit I went online and found a class action lawsuit against Toyota for guess what? an excessive oil consumption defect!  Don't believe me, check this lawsuit verbiage:

This action arises from Defendants’ failure, despite their longstanding knowledge of a material design defect, to disclose to Plaintiffs and other consumers that the Class Vehicles are predisposed to an excessively high rate of engine oil consumption (the “Oil Consumption Defect”). This defect – which typically manifests itself during and shortly after the limited warranty period has expired will inevitably cause the Class Vehicles to prematurely burn off and/or consume abnormal and excessive amounts of engine oil.

The existence of the Oil Consumption Defect poses a safety risk to the operator and passengers of the vehicle because it prevents the engine from maintaining the proper level of engine oil, and causes an excessive amount of engine oil consumption that can neither be reasonably anticipated nor predicted. Further, the Oil Consumption Defect can cause engine failure while the Class Vehicles are in operation at any time and under any driving condition or speed. This exposes the driver and occupants of the Class Vehicles, as well as others who share the road with them, to an increased risk of accident, injury, or death. As discussed further herein, numerous owners and lessees of the Class Vehicles have experienced engine damage and catastrophic failure while operating the Class Vehicle, thus placing themselves and those around them in immediate danger.

As alleged, Toyota has long been aware of the Oil Consumption Defect yet has routinely refused to repair the Class Vehicles without charge when the defect manifests.


Toyota Recalls Prius models to update software

Toyota Engine Excessive Oil Consumption 

OIL CONSUMPTION DEFECT  - Class Action Lawsuit Against Toyota 

Excessive Oil Consumption Customer Complaints

Monday, January 16, 2017

Rodgers Can R-E-L-A-X After Win In Big D'!

Yeah, you knew this one wasn't going to be easy for either team. The Green Bay Packers opened up on the Cowboys with a 21-3 lead midway through the 2nd quarter of an NFC Divisional Playoff game in Dallas. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was mister terrific as he ran that offense like a magician, knowing all the hidden compartments and trap doors to escape through. 

Then the Cowboys with QB Dak Prescott caught fire and the momentum swung back and forth until the teams found themselves tied 28-28 with 4:08 left in the game. 

The game was now in the hands of clutch play-makers and field goal kickers. Check out video highlights to see what words just don't do justice describing. It was the best game of the seasons' NFL playoffs to date.

Mason Crosby Made 56 Yrd Field Goal
8 plays, 37 yards, 2:35
Dan Bailey Made 52 Yrd Field Goal
6 plays, 42 yards, 0:58
Mason Crosby Made 51 Yrd Field Goal
6 plays, 43 yards, 0:35

(Credit: AP / LM Otero)
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) watches his 51-yard field goal to win the game as time expires during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 34-31.

Congratulations Green Bay Packers and good luck in Atlanta against the Falcons next week.

Packers 34
Cowboys 31

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kyung Wha-Chung - Legendary!

Epic Clashes; we see it in sports, theatre and music. The more challenging the feat or adversary, the greater the will to conquer.

World renowned violinist Kyung Wha-Chung attacks a Mendelssohn Concerto like a professional football player would attack an opponent; tenaciously and with abandon. 

Watch as Kyung not only plays with unequaled passion, but also shows a graceful touch and effortless control over a technically challenging classical piece. 

This clip is from Kyung's earlier playing days in the 1970's. I don't know if any violinist who followed has matched her riveting skill and performance level. Kyung is a legendary violinist whose past performances are even more appreciated through hindsight.  She's still performing at age 68, and is a current member of the Julliard School Faculty.

Sports fans should be able to recognize the competitive power and impassioned style of this world class violinist. She's Serena Williams with a violin instead of a tennis racquet. But for her gender, size and chosen craft of music, she might've been a #1 draft pick in the NFL had she chosen athletics; that's how much skill, passion, energy and confidence she has in her game.

Kyung Wha-Chung; A Raider legend

Kyung Wha-Chung articles of interest: